Ersan Ilyasova

Ersan Ilyasova profile
Drafted #36 in the 2005 NBA Draft by the Bucks
Height: 6'9" (206 cm)
Weight: 209 lbs (95 kg)
Position: PF
Hometown: Eskisehir, Turkiye
Current Team: Bulls
Win - Loss: 40 - 44


Blogging through the Copa del Rey (Part Three)

Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
Feb 26, 2009, 07:17 pm
Following up on our last entry to Ilyasova’s profile back in November, the 21 year old Turkish forward continues to have an excellent season for FC Barcelona and is clearly one of the more intriguing young players in Europe. He’s no longer draft eligible, as his rights are held by the Bucks, and probably is older than his 1987-listed date of birth, but is still a player teams should keep an eye on thanks to his nice physical profile and strong production at the highest level of Europe.

Ilyasova is playing the power forward position almost exclusively for Barcelona, where he stands out primarily for his ability to space the floor and his terrific rebounding skills. Super long, athletic and very quick off his feet, Ilyasova has emerged as one of the best rebounders in European basketball these days, ranking #1 in both the ACB and the Euroleague.

Offensively, he’s a clear-cut role-player, being asked to function mostly as a spot-up shooter, offensive rebounder, transition player, and off-ball finisher on cuts and pick and roll plays. His limitations are pretty clear, as his ball-handling skills are average, he does not possess any type of post-up game, he rarely gets to the line, is not much of a passer, and is somewhat turnover prone. Ilyasova does not really stand out with his feel for the game, but he can be a very useful player when put in the right role. Barcelona likes his ability to open up the paint for their big men and slashers, and he’s really developed into a terrific 3-point shooter, to the tune of 46/104 or 44% on the season. He can make shots spotting up or off the dribble, showing unusual shooting mechanics (kicking his right leg out violently on every attempt) but seeing terrific results from all over the floor.

Defensively, Ilyasova can be useful thanks to his nice combination of size, length and athleticism. He does a good job contesting shots on the perimeter, but is not very quick laterally and is prone to getting pushed around in the post by stronger power forwards. He looks much better suited to play as a modern PF than as a true SF (in the NBA or not) and players in his mold seem to be en vogue.

It’s funny that we compared him to a European version of Rashard Lewis at best, or Bostjan Nachbar at worst back when we wrote up his initial profile four years ago. That’s a very accurate way of describing his strengths and weaknesses, although he’s probably a better rebounder than those two.

Ilyasova might not be in a huge rush to return to the NBA anytime soon, but he would likely fare far better now that his game has developed. He probably still has more room to improve down the road, so it’s possible that the Bucks may end up seeing some value out of holding his draft rights. He’s a restricted free agent this summer, so other teams can bid for his services as well. If he's really only 21 years old, he likely still has quite a bit of upside left to continue to improve.

European Roundup: Tepic the Man for Partizan

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
Nov 07, 2008, 07:02 pm
It's easy to forget about European players returning to the Old Continent after an NBA stint. Actually, we're yet to witness anyone actually coming back to the American competition. It makes sense for several reasons: if a player fails, it's highly likely that he doesn't have the goods to make it back there. Players coming back from the NBA rarely show the same hunger they displayed before, and even often struggle readjusting to the international game. If they finally overcome their flaws or were NBA material from the beginning, chances are they will be making a boatload of money in Europe. Plus, it's difficult to convince front offices that the reasons for a player's failure aren't there anymore.

However, with players returning to Europe everyday younger, sometimes opting for superior European offering even while garnering some other NBA interest, the day we'll see a player return to the NBA is surely not far away.

Ersan Ilyasova is as good of a candidate as anyone. Still only 21 years old, (if we opt to believe his official birthdate) he left a promising enough impression during his days with the Bucks to have NBA teams checking up on his progress. And what they can see this season is a face-up forward who makes a difference thanks to his physical exuberance for European standards, which helped him to be named Euroleague player of the month in October, after averaging over 15 points and 9 rebounds per game in under 24 minutes. You can follow his numbers in both the Euroleague and ACB here on his DraftExpress stats page.

The Turkish player would most likely be able to still hold his own at the small forward position in the NBA, but he's certainly a much more effective player in Europe as a power forward. Struggling to play off the dribble against perimeter player (he is prone for traveling violations with his first step, which is called more rigorously in Europe), and not much of a low-post threat, it wasn't easy for him to deliver his stuff in the crowded international half-court offenses. And even if he provided a terrific physical presence for that position, he sometimes suffered defensively keep up with the plethora of guard-type small forwards that you usually see on European teams.

Now, as a face-up power forward, he usually enjoys more space to release his unorthodox long-range rainbow shot (his back-step pull-up jumper simply can't be contested), and finds less opposition to slash towards the basket. Hardly any power forward in Europe can keep up with his first step, and Ilyasova can go both ways, and even tries to attack them when they are unbalanced. He also enjoys more space inside to execute continuations on pick-and-roll plays, where he shows his excellent mobility and willingness to attack the rim.

In the end, he's not really a go-to player even in Europe, but instead a superb complimentary guy. Ilyasova is particularly standing out in the rebounding department, where he uses his length, strength, positioning, athleticism and, above anything, shows the hustle and desire to come up with the ball, which becomes especially obvious on the offensive glass. He's putting up outrageous production thus far in both the Euroleague and ACB in this category. Meanwhile, he also shows very nice activity on defense. After all, he's an energetic guy who earns his salary.

On the downside, he still lacks some refinement in his game, including a more consistent shot, and shows little mid-range game to speak of. He could also better use his size and strength posting up opponents more frequently, and might be trapped between positions especially on the defensive end, being slightly slow to match-up against quick small forwards, and not particularly big to battle the elite power forwards. Anyway, given the complementary nature of his game and his basketball tools, he would likely be heading back to the small forward position if he ever rejoins the NBA. His draft rights are still owned by the Milwaukee Bucks, but they will likely have to pay a pretty penny to bring him over this summer.

Scouting the NBA Rights-Held Players at the 2008 Copa del Rey

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
Feb 19, 2008, 02:18 am
Nobody could expect anything but a transition season in Ilyasova’s comeback to the Old Continent. He’s a young guy, fairly inexperienced, stuck in an extremely demanding team in Europe (a top-4 squad in terms of budget) where he’s asked to be efficient and consistent, something that is very difficult for a still immature guy like him. To make matters worse, he’s likely among the ten highest paid players in all of Europe, which doesn’t help ease the expectations from him.

Having started the season as a small forward, he’s playing every day more as a power forward, where he can feel more comfortable exploiting his superior perimeter skills and athleticism against frontcourt players. He’s big and strong enough to challenge opposing power forwards on defense, and his just-decent lateral quickness doesn’t get exploited as much by the small threes you often see in Europe. It also makes sense because he’s limiting his game to face-up perimeter options, trying to cash in off his three-point stroke (that is looking really inconsistent), although struggling to effectively put the ball on the floor and drive past his opponents (he’s lacking some aggressiveness in this department and he’s very often called for travelling on the first step). Anyway, he couldn’t show anything in the Copa, having played only 3 minutes. He just received the ball in a continuation on play, but delivered a bad pass that ended up in a turnover.

He’s a guy with potential for sure, but he needs time. Unfortunately for Barcelona, he might end up becoming a useful player just when his fat contract runs up (apparently in 2009). His NBA rights are still owned by Milwaukee, but that seems like a very distant option at the moment.

A Look Back At The U-20 European Championships (Part Two)

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Sep 22, 2006, 02:00 am
A man amongst boys (take that as you want), a true NBA player (despite his tenure in the NBDL) in a youth tournament. Physically, Ilyasova was on a totally different level, showing a blessed 6-10 body, strong, ripped, with a perfect frame and wide shoulders, while also delivering terrific athleticism and explosiveness. On the court, he was a big scoring force, showcasing an excellent stroke, that he loves to deliver with spectacular jumpers after a pump fake and a dribble (sometimes also with a step-back). Showing very nice ball-handling skills, it was quite a task to try to stop him whenever he drove to the basket, given his quickness and strength, which he also used near the basket to put the ball in the net against opposition. Perhaps it was missed a bit more of passing, while he sometimes became too enamored with his jumper. Still, he was the well-deserved MVP of the championship.

FIBA World Championship Preview: Group C, Part Two

Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
Kristian Hohnjec
Kristian Hohnjec
Aug 16, 2006, 02:48 am
It’s starting to matter less and less whether Ersan Ilyasova is 19 or 22 years old. In his first appearance with the Turkish National team and given the fact that most of the veterans are now out of the picture, Ilyasova is the team's starting power forward, moving to small forward at times and becoming a serious threat on offense for some stretches in the exhibition games so far.

Despite lacking the necessary experience at the senior level, Ilyasova is only getting better and after a productive season in the NBDL, where he averaged 12.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He looks ready to start evolving into a factor on the young Milwaukee Bucks' frontcourt. In parallel, with the massive adjustments the Turkish roster has seen, he can become the team's go-to player pretty soon, as he probably possesses the most skills and potential than any other player in the country.

Long, athletic and quick, Ilyasova is a talented player on both sides of the court, whose physical condition, despite seeing limited due to injury, is excellent overall and has helped him become a great inside-outside talent. He has a nice shooting touch both inside and from long-range, good slashing and finishing skills and even the ability to score after creating his own shot off the dribble. His nice ball-handling skills and court vision have already been proven among the best attributes of his offensive game, while his inside game is not limited either, being able to post up opponents and present a number of well-worked inside moves, showing that he can be a force at either forward position.

On defense, he has some pretty good potential, fighting for every loose ball and getting many rebounds in the recent national team friendlies. He was extremely well positioned and used his leaping ability to get his fair share of offensive boards, while his athleticism helped him become a pesky guy to overcome. When he recently matched up with Dirk Nowitzki, he did a terrific job holding his own both inside and on the perimeter.

Despite all those wonderful skills that he possesses, Ersan still has a lot to learn. Following the end of the NBDL season, he gained some weight, but still seems rather thin and will probably need to add more in order to survive the NBA physical competition, as well as this upcoming World Championship.

Being young in age or young in experience, its all the same; he needs to play more high level games and become more stable. He’ll too often go unnoticed for long stretches, while on defense, in spite of his great potential, he gets taken advantage of inside.

Despite the inexperience, Ilyasova will need to work through these issues and do so quickly, as the Turkish national team will desperately need him at his best if they are to beat out Australia for the 4th and final spot in the group. This is an exciting time for Ilyasova as he is about to join both a national team and an NBA franchise that will be looking for him to contribute progressively in the near future. Time will tell how ready he is to carry this load.

Ersan Ilyasova NBA Draft Scouting Report

Jun 26, 2005, 03:17 am
The 6'9 Ilyasova has a promising frame and athletic ability for a European player his age. Probably his biggest advantage is the fact that he’s rather physically developed for his age. He worked a lot on his upper body during his injury, enough to fight for many rebounds on both ends of the floor. He’s frequently used at the Power Forward position, which considering his combination of size, athleticism, balance and body control, creates mismatches on offense.

He has improved his outside shot to the point of becoming a dangerous threat from the outside, easily having range which extends beyond the European three point line. Thanks to a very good first step he also has the ability to create his own shot, being capable of finishing with fade-away jumpers. It also helps him with his penetrations. He’s a pretty good slasher, being fearless and very determined when it comes to going all the way to the basket. Due to his body, he has the possibility to effectively post up his opponents when going up against the competition he has so far. His ability to play inside and outside, and the versatility that comes with that, making him one of the most valuable players in his age group.

Ilyasova's defensive abilities are split. His man to man defense is tremendous and he’s fearless trying to get the ball as fast as he can. He has a special feel for defensive rebounds. Both as a Small Forward and a Power Forward he helps a lot in the paint after missed shots. Due to the fact that he is playing more at the Small Forward position he has a big advantage when defending a Power Forward due to his good foot work.

Ilyasova has a good feel for the game, knowing how and when to use his moves and shots. He is very well coordinated on the floor with good ball handling skills. The ability which made him to the most valuable player of the Turkish cadets national team was his leadership. Ilyasova is not afraid of taking shots at any time. On the contrary, you can count on him when the minutes/seconds are running down in the fourth quarter. He does not worry about missed shots; his only thought is to lead his team to a win. Giving him enough minutes against the competition he has played against so far in Europe, he can easily reach a double-double per game with points and rebounds.

The biggest concern about Ilyasova is the fact that he has had major problems staying healthy since arriving on the senior level. His history of injuries, especially to his ankle, is worrying considering his young age.

The second biggest concern about Ilyasova is that he has proven absolutely nothing at the European level at this point in his career. All of his fame has come from playing at the junior level so far, this past year he was either hampered by injuries or stuck on the end of the bench of a deep and ambitious team, so there is really no way to evaluate how well his strengths translate to the senior level when he isn’t always the biggest, strongest, athletic or skilled player on the floor. He’s definitely a raw player right now and the team drafting him will need to be patient with him. As is the case with most European teenagers who are drafted into the NBA, he will have to deal with many new adjustments, including a new language (he speaks very little English), culture and style of play.

Despite not being a weak player, his physical development is far from being complete, which is absolutely logical considering how young he supposedly is.

Ilyasova’s passing game isn’t on par with his great ability to amass scoring and rebounding production. However, considering that he has a good feel for the game, he easily could improve his passing skills.

On the defensive end Ilyasova is already quite good considering his age. But for now there is almost no team defense by Ersan. He is very focused on playing man to man so he often forget to switch and help his teammates. It seems when using a zone that he doesn’t feel too comfortable, that the positioning doesn’t come intuitively for him, having to think too much. Here, he has to learn to make a quick picture of the opponents play so he can rotate in an effective way.

We’ve said that he likes to lead his team and is not afraid of taking big shots, but there is something in his character which he has also to develop. Ersan is a very quite player on the court. Though he is giving signals that he wants the ball during the game, he has to be much more louder. He’s not a vocal leader, though he leads by example.

Finally, there have always been rumblings about the controversy regarding his true age. Some say that he was actually born in 1984, rather than 1987, something that would certainly limit his upside. There is basically no way to confirm or disconfirm those concerns at this point, although it should be noted that he definitely does look closer to 18 years old rather than 21.

After he was loaned to Yesilyurt last season, this year Ilyasova got some (but not many) minutes for Ulker Istanbul. He played more in the Turkish league than in Euroleague games but he also enjoyed some minutes to learn about the level of the second best league in the world. Unfortunately a serious injury before the season cost him valuable months in his developing process, having to settle for a rather marginal contribution when he could have enjoyed a bit of a breakthrough year. As for some stats. you can take his numbers in the Albert-Schweitzer junior tournament as a realistic sign about his dominant level in his group age. With 19.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, he was named MVP of this tournament leading the Turkish team to the title over the Argentinean team.

Without any doubt Ilyasova is a mysterious player for scouts. There are not many discussions about him in the media, as there just isn’t much to go off of at this point. You also cannot read many comments coming from him. He is a quiet person, who seems to not have any problems with teammates and coaches. For now, to predict his development seems like a hard task. Looking at his performances so far it's easy to say that he is a promising player but there are too many question marks like his age, injuries etc. He has to play consistently to give a sure opinion about his game. Considering that he wants to declare this year the question is: what position could be realistic for him? For now it seems that he could be a mid-late first round pick. Any team taking him has to be aware that Ilyasova is an investment for the future, an intriguing player with excellent potential, but who can’t really draw any expectations about a significant contribution anytime soon.

Whatever the conditions are, the only right thing for Ilyasova would be to stay in Europe for some more years and to gain experience. If he is not sent down to the newly established developmental league to see significant minutes, it would be a waste to go to the NBA so soon as he would only have two years to prove himself before his team would have to decide whether to keep him on the team at his current contract. If he prepares well for another season in Europe, free of any injuries, I'm sure that he will see his expected minutes since his team has finally given some signs of focusing more on young players after another disappointing season in the Turkish League.

Ersan Ilyasova, the Turkish pearl

Sadik Iliman
Sadik Iliman
Jan 05, 2005, 03:07 am
Ersan Ilyasova is someone who you can see really loves to play the game, cadets Turkish coach Nihat Izic said after winning the Albert Schweitzer tournament in Mannheim (Germany) last year. Ilyasova, who plays for Ülker Istanbul, is regarded as a very special player since he was the leader of the Turkish team in the 2003 European Cadets Championships held in Spain. He had been dominant throughout the tournament until the fate met him: the kid twisted his ankle, suffering a fracture that left him in a wheelchair for a while. However, Turkey finished second, losing the final against Nemanja Aleksandrov's Serbia & Montenegro, while everyone was asking themselves, "what if Ilyasova were not injured?".

Back in Turkey, there was a big crowd of people at the airport waiting for the team. It was odd to see Ilyasova in a wheelchair carrying his silver medal while the media was taking some pictures of the team.

I won't forget that day and that situation. He did not speak to anyone and looked as if his career was over before it had started, coach Izic said later in an interview. But what Ilyasova didn't know at that moment was that he already was a player every scout and expert had an eye on.


And there are reasons enough: beyond his health issues, the kid is a wonderful prospect, a forward full of strengths, from which he fully takes advantage. He has a good feel for the game, knowing when and how to use certain moves and shots. He has great ball handling and enjoys nice coordination. He has improved his outside game a lot after being focused on penetration for so long. He always liked the midrange jumper, but now he can hit it consistently and shows a nice touch from mid to three point range, making him more of a perimeter guy. But his very mature and athletic body allows him also to post up and fight under the basket. That's why you can see him getting some nice rebounding numbers.

Probably his real position right now is something between small forward and power forward, although the three spot should be waiting for him in the pros. He is a tremendous finisher on the offensive end, has the ability to create his own shots and already shows good concentration while on the court. But what makes him more valuable is his will to win. He is not afraid of taking big shots in crunch time and he never disappears from the game when his team needs him.

Are there any weaknesses? Of course there are, but his biggest problems are not on the technique side.

Despite being pretty focused in the game, Ilyasova is not always consistent enough. That's why you can eventually see some unconventional field goal percentages in his stats. As for almost every European player who wants to play in the NBA, he needs to work on his defense. He is not that bad of a one-on-one defender, but he forgets to help his teammates when opponents use screens, only focusing on stopping his own man. He also needs to be more aggressive on both ends of the floor if he really wants to become an outstanding player. There are good signs regarding this matter, though, especially when playing for the national teams, where he's well coached in motivation and aggressiveness.

However, some people are careful when speaking about the kid being a top Turkish talent, because some time ago, the Uzbekish basketball federation sent a complaint to FIBA by asserting that Ersan Ilyasova was their player. There are plenty of rumors about this topic and many experts still analyze this story.


The most spread theory says that Ülker Istanbul brought in a guy called Arsen Ilyasov born in 1984 from Uzbekistan and organized a Turkish passport for him, changing his name to Ersan Ilyasova while reducing his age by three years in the process.

The fact is that Arsen Ilyasov crossed the border on August 7, 2002, but never showed up again. On September 19, 2002, a man named Semsettin Bulut told the Turkish authorities that he had forgotten to register his fifteen-year-old son, and so he registered him as Ersan Ilyasova. A long investigation held by the Turkish authorities showed that there wasn't any previous data about the kid in their files.

Anyway, the conflict between the Uzbekish and the Turkish federation ended when FIBA adjudicated for the Turkish federation, while the player has been able to preserve 1987 as his year of birth.

Ilyasova still plays for Ülker Istanbul, although last season he was loaned to Yesilyurt, a second league team in Turkey. There was some big criticism about this move. Even though Ülker had some superior forwards like Kutluay and Yildirim, and the team was heavily relying on foreign players like Melvin Booker, Joseph Blair and Efthimios Rentzias, many experts thought it would have been better to keep Ilyasova and let him play at least the domestic competition. The criticism rose when Ülker finished a bad season both in the Euroleague and Turkish league.

Last April, Ilyasova played outstanding games with the junior national team in the Albert-Schweitzer tournament in Mannheim/Germany, leading Turkey over Argentina in the final. He earned MVP honors, posting 19.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. It was like a comeback party for him.

But once again his fate: he got injured and had to undergo an operation in the United States – successfully finished, by the way. For the second summer in a row, the Turkish national team missed him, this time for the European Junior Championships played in Zaragoza, and especially in the final, where Turkey couldn't stop the hosting Spanish team, led by a very inspired Sergio Rodríguez.

Looking at his different injuries at such a young age, you may wonder if Ersan will face such problems again and will become a perennially injury-prone player. Well, these kinds of questions are hard to answer. It seems more like an eventuality rather than an extended time issue. But of course, it will be very important for him to play consistent minutes without any injuries in the next months.


Now, it's time to look forward. He's the most interesting prospect in Turkey. But unfortunately there are still problems, and it has little to do with his performance level. It will be hard for him to see any playing time with Ülker next season. Turkish teams are not particularly known for playing those young guys, especially the Euroleague clubs Ülker and Efes Pilsen.

There was some big pressure last year on his club to let Ilyasova play. The pressure is not going away. On the contrary, it will increase. It isn't enough for the kid to play only on the national youth teams, because he needs to learn how to play against the big ones in the Euroleague. That's the only way he can really work on his game.

Looking at the current roster of his club, there are some not so good signs. Lithuanian forward Saulius Stombergas starts, but there are way too many guards and forwards who can start and also be backup. Starting with Dion Glover - ex-NBA player -, David Jackson - ex-CBA player and defender of the year - and Serkan Erdogan, though he plays more the two, he can also be used at small forward. Rumors say that Ülker wants to sign Dusan Vukcevic, another small forward. So you can see that there is a big fight for the minutes with excellent players, and we also have to consider that Ilyasova will be coming off an injury. Some minutes at the Turkish league seems the only realistic possibility right now.

Considering his profile as a prospect, it's pretty logical to see him listed at the third spot in his age group, just behind Nemanja Aleksandrov and Yi Jianlian. But again the decisive issue here is his age. Is he really a 1987 born player? This question is very important for scouts and his possible NBA future. There's a huge difference between being 17 or 20 years old in terms of potential. Being older would significantly restrict his room for development. But even if he's actually a 1984 born guy, you couldn't say that he's no longer an interesting prospect, as he already has a body ready to use against much tougher opponents at his position, and a nice set of skills.

In Turkey, many people expect Ersan Ilyasova to be the leader of the national team in the future, when players like Kutluay finish their careers. Ersan is not a person who shows big emotions. It's even hard to find any comments made by him to the media. But when he's on court, you can see his will to be a true leader.

Before finishing, I would like to add my share of pressure to his club: it would be sad to see him again on the bench, and I can guarantee that neither Ilyasova nor his club Ülker would have any regrets if Ersan gets his minutes.

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